Release Date: May 20, 2014
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Techno, Pop/Rock, Ambient Techno
Just like the material with which they share their name, Plaid's music has sometimes fallen victim to the vagaries of fashion. Creators of thoughtful, refined electronica for 25 years, the duo of Andy Turner and Ed Handley are classed as making "intelligent dance music" when the taste on the dancefloor can often be for anything but. Yet, just like your lumberjack shirt, Plaid have endured, and their 10th album sticks to the delicate, melodic style they've been refining since they started recording under the name the Black Dog.
Plaid is a London-based electronic music duo, made up of Andy Turner and Ed Handley. They have been around for some 25 years now, and are now releasing their 10th album, Reachy Prints. They’ve also had their hand in Web apps. The new song “Tether” is accompanied by a video of sorts where you can manipulate geometric shapes on the screen by dragging or clicking your mouse, or touching the screen on your smartphone or tablet.
Plaid are old hands at this EDM lark. Reachy Prints is their 10th album in a 25-year career that owes as much to remixes and spells behind the production desk (for the likes of Björk and Goldfrapp) as it does to the London-based duo’s reams of original material. So what do Andy Turner and Ed Handley have left to prove? What has changed in the three long years since their last full-length release, 2011’s Scintilli? Not a lot, as it turns out.
Plaid's first proper album in nearly a decade, Scintilli, was a slightly tentative return that ultimately felt like a warm-up for Reachy Prints. With its juxtapositions of the prickly and the funky, the electronic and the orchestral, the duo's sixth album evokes Not for Threes while giving the often-delicate sonics of their previous album more impact on tracks such as "Hawkmoth. " Even more so than on Scintilli, Ed Handley and Andy Turner know when to be complex and when to be direct.
Review Summary: Plaid subdued. Ever since the burgeoning UK electronic scene of the early nineties, spearheaded by Warp’s Artificial Intelligence series and their impressive catalogue of artists, Andy Turner and Ed Handley have been at the center of the IDM world. From their earliest days with The Black Dog, and their self-managed label Black Dog Productions, until the split which ultimately resulted in the formation of Plaid as a functional unit (even though the moniker had been used before), the British duo were massive contributors to the sound that would eventually flourish into the style known as intelligent dance music.
Plaid have been reliable fixtures in “intelligent dance music” since the genre first rose to prominence in the 1990s. Ever since their career-launching debut, 1997's Not for Threes, Andy Turner and Ed Handley have released carefully composed recordings full of warm tones, friendly melodies, and interesting technical sleights of hand; they've often found themselves situated between the genre's mercurial virtuosos (Aphex Twin, Squarepusher) and a legion of hacky glitch engineers. Their latest, Reachy Prints, is full of new sounds.
As IDM veterans Andy Turner and Ed Handley churn out their tenth album under the name Plaid, it marks a 25-year union for the duo and almost two decades under the ever-growing arms of Warp Records. The album itself has all of Plaid's signature moves — quirky beats, nostalgic rhythms, that curious impish quality that they always seem to weave into the mix — which is actually what ends up being a pitfall for the release. Reachy Prints' main problem, and inherently Plaid's too, is one of predictability.
25 years in, you know where you are with Plaid. They are not going to make a trap album, go deep house or release a ball-crushing set of industrial techno. Yet as much as Ed Handley and Andy Turner's music sticks to an IDM/electronica blueprint, it's always taking subtly different forms—the duo have, for instance, collaborated on audio-visual projects, performed with a gamelan orchestra and done film soundtracks.If Reachy Prints, their tenth album, could be said to have a theme, it's the 1970s.